Oklahoma Student Loans
Oklahoma, a Midwestern state, has a rich landscape including the Great Plains, mountain chains, and numerous lakes and forests. The capital, Oklahoma City, combines history and modernity, as it is the home to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and also the Bricktown district, an entertainment hub known for restaurants and nightlife. Each June, the Red Earth Native American cultural festival draws much attention to the state.
For Oklahoma residents who wish to pursue higher education, there are numerous public colleges and universities available. According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the public education system includes two-year community colleges and four-year public colleges and universities.
For students who are seeking a more metropolitan experience, Oklahoma City and Tulsa are two options. Public schools in Oklahoma City include Oklahoma City Community College, Langston University (Oklahoma City campus), and the University of Oklahoma Health Services Center. Tulsa also offers several public institutions of higher education, including:
- Tulsa Community College
- Langston University (Tulsa campus)
- Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
- Oklahoma State University
- University of Oklahoma
There are numerous private colleges and universities in Oklahoma as well. While private schools cannot usually compete with the low cost of tuition at state schools, many private schools offer generous financial aid packages. Students who are interested in attending a private university in the state capital may be interested in schools such as Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, and Oklahoma City University. Tulsa private schools include Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa, Tulsa. Outside of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, there are private schools throughout the state, such as Bacone University in Muskogee, Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, and Saint Gregory’s University in Shawnee.
College Selection Factors
When going through the college selection process, a good rule of thumb is to select some schools that are safe in terms of the likelihood of being accepted. However, it’s also important for a student not to underestimate himself, and selecting a couple or more reach schools is also a good practice.
According to U.S. News, the following Tennessee schools have the most selective admissions screening process:
- Oklahoma Wesleyan University (23.94% acceptance rate)
- Oral Roberts University (43.54% acceptance rate)
- Langston University (Langston campus, 50.54% acceptance rate)
- Rogers State University (54.45% acceptance rate)
- Oklahoma Baptist University (56.46% acceptance rate)
In addition to location, many students will factor the size of the school into their college selection process. Students who think they would like their college experience to take place in a large setting will want to consider some of the largest schools in Tennessee. According to College Stats, the following schools have the largest student bodies in Tennessee:
- University of Oklahoma (Norman Campus: 30,976 students)
- Tulsa Community College (28,926 students)
- Oklahoma State University (main campus: 28,710 students)
- Oklahoma City Community College (21,521 students)
- University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond: 20,534 students)
Yet another important factor many students take into account is the school’s overall ranking. The placement of a school on a rankings list is dependent largely on the specific ranking authority. Many rankings rely on information such as the quality of the library and other campus resources, student teacher ratio, graduation rates, and the employment outcomes of graduates.
According to the 2015 University Web Ranking, the following schools appreciate the topmost rankings in Tennessee:
- The University of Oklahoma (Norman)
- Oklahoma State University (Stillwater)
- University of Tulsa
- University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond)
- The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City)
The college selection process is an important step in one’s college career. The more relevant information a student learns about a school, the better informed her decision can be on whether to apply, and if accepted, whether to matriculate at that school. Helpful research early on can help students make the best decision after those acceptance letters start arriving.
One potentially frustrating part of the college selection process is that students apply to schools before they know how much financial aid they will actually receive. In view of this limitation, one strategy is to select schools that range in tuition from high to low.
Public community colleges usually offer the very best tuition rates. However, these schools only offer two-year degrees, and students who wish to continue their education will have to transfer to a public or private four-year college. Although four-year colleges are more costly, a student who starts out in a community college and later transfers will likely have spent less on education than a student who matriculates at a four-year college from day one.
To provide an example, consider the tuition rates at Tulsa Community College. For an Oklahoma resident, the 2015 cost per credit hour is $87.22. For a non-resident, the 2015 cost is $286.79 per credit hour. At Langston University, a public university, 2015 in-state annual tuition and fees amounts to $4,900. The total for out-of-state annual tuition and fees is $11,886. When these public school costs are compared to private schools, the difference is considerable. For instance, for the 2015-16 academic year, Oral Roberts University, located in Tulsa, is $23,896 in tuition alone.
Under the Direct Loan program, and based on the school’s determination of need, students may be eligible to borrow either subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans. Compared to private loans, federal loans have low interest rates and favorable repayment terms. The main benefit of subsidized Direct Loans is that the federal government will pay the interest on the principal balance of the loan while the student is in school and during other qualifying periods. With subsidized loans, student borrowers are generally always responsible to pay the interest that accrues on the principal amount of the loan.
The Direct Loan program also provides the PLUS Loan, an option for parent borrowers of undergraduate students. PLUS Loans are based on specific factors, such as the credit worthiness of the parent borrower.
The Federal Perkins Loan is reserved for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need on the FAFSA. The school determines if this criterion is met. Not all schools participate in this lending program. For this reason, students who are interested in this loan will need to inquire directly with schools of interest to learn if it is available. One benefit of the Perkins Loan is its low interest rate, which is currently fixed at 5 percent.
Private student loans are available from national and local banks and credit unions. These loans are considered the least desirable form of funds because they carry a higher interest rate than federal student loans and limited repayment terms. However, borrowing private student loans is necessary for some students. For those students, the best practice is to get a list of private lenders from schools that have offered admission.
The school will generally not require the student to work with any specific bank. In fact, schools play a limited role in this process, but they will usually need to certify the amount borrowed. This measure helps to curb borrowing. The purpose of private student loans is only to cover unmet financial needs associated with matriculation in the school. This is a good thing because the less a student borrows privately now, the less he will owe later.
Institutional loans are ones that the school directly provides to eligible students. Students who would like information on this option will need to contact the school directly to learn about any such loans available. One example of a school that offers institutional loans is the University of Oklahoma. According to the university, the following institutional loans are available:
- Lew Wentz Merit Loan: available to middle-income students who demonstrate the required levels of academic merit
- Robert B. Lewis Computer Loan: provides a loan to students to purchase a computer
- Sallie B. Clark Loan: female students who need additional financial assistance may qualify
- James A. Robey and Medora Robey Loan: a loan available for students with unmet financial needs
- Murray Case Sells Loan: offered to middle-income students who need further financial assistance
The state of Oklahoma does not have a student lending program. Oklahoma students will therefore be limited to borrowing from the federal government, the school itself (where available), and private banks; however, Oklahoma may provide eligible students with a state grant. Interested students are best advised to contact the Oklahoma College Assistance Program for more information.